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  • Attributes as skills

    As a home brew rule in the Explorers edition, I added skills tied directly to the Attribute. This was an extension of the Common Knowledge roll rule on page 23. The general premise is if the context is in the character background it is reasonable for them to have a chance to know the information. For example, a character with a sailing background possibly knowing the story behind a constellation. I expanded that to all attributes: Agility was Acrobatics, Smarts was Common Knowledge, Spirit was Will, Strength was Athletics, and Vigor was Endurance. I felt this allowed the attribute to have more meaning than just a Skill cap and/or requirement minimum. I did not require players to advance these skills, as they were a product of the Attribute, and thus equal to the attribute.

    With the introduction of the Adventure Edition, and the Core skills, this house rule was set aside, because two of the Core skills were used; Athletics and Common Knowledge.

    I would like to revamp my house rule to fit, as a feel attributes do not get the level of attention and game play as they should. I see a few options to support this: First add other skills to the core skills requiring advancement, or second removing Athletics, Common Knowledge from Core skills and instituting my rule-set.

    If I choose the first option, I feel the need to increase the creation points from 12 to 15 as I increased the skills needing advancement.

    The second option, I feel the need to reduce the creation point as they are getting 5 skills for free.

    Either of these dilutes the Brute Edge.

    Thoughts?

  • #2
    Welcome (back?) to the forum!
    Originally posted by Thunderbeast View Post
    As a home brew rule in the Explorers edition, I added skills tied directly to the Attribute. This was an extension of the Common Knowledge roll rule on page 23. The general premise is if the context is in the character background it is reasonable for them to have a chance to know the information. For example, a character with a sailing background possibly knowing the story behind a constellation. I expanded that to all attributes: Agility was Acrobatics, Smarts was Common Knowledge, Spirit was Will, Strength was Athletics, and Vigor was Endurance. I felt this allowed the attribute to have more meaning than just a Skill cap and/or requirement minimum. I did not require players to advance these skills, as they were a product of the Attribute, and thus equal to the attribute.
    ...
    I would like to revamp my house rule to fit, as a feel attributes do not get the level of attention and game play as they should.
    ...
    Thoughts?
    I think you could just drop the house rule entirely to great effect.

    Vigor still covers all the stuff an "endurance" skill should cover. No need to introduce a new skill for that - resisting poison and disease, withstanding starvation and thirst, performing tasks for extended periods, pushing for just a bit longer, etc.
    Strength is lifting and carrying, with the rest of it being rolled into the Athletics skill.
    Spirit still covers all the stuff a "will" skill probably covered. Resisting magic, resisting manipulation skills, resisting fear, etc.
    Common Knowledge is an independent skill, removing the original inspiration for the house rule. I've actually found the new Common Knowledge to be a positive change to the game, allowing stupid characters to be knowledgeable about their culture, general history, reflect background experience and information common to the character's background, and other common information and allowing very smart characters to lack that knowledge; that helps a lot of character concepts work correctly. Also, being an actual Skill means I'm a lot more willing to give it concrete benefits and uses in game - I'm not having to constantly be reminded that it exists.
    Acrobatics has mostly been rolled into the Athletics skill, augmented by the Acrobat and Free Runner edges. I approve, since clumsy characters can train their balance, tumbling, and athletic skills without becoming super-coordinated or gaining hyper-reflexes.

    Vigor gets a lot of love in the core rules. I've never felt, or had a player feel, that they wasted investment in Vigor.
    Smarts continues to be one of the most popular attributes, largely because it governs nearly half the skill list. It doesn't come up very much in game play, other than resisting Tests and affecting most Powers (mostly for Range or resistance rolls).
    Spirit comes up a lot, and every player with Spirit d4 comes to regret that choice. Not just because of all the amazing edges that require Spirit d8+, but the need to recover from Shaken and resist Fear has made it an excellent defensive attribute. With handful or related skills helps it shine.
    Strength is popular for carrying stuff, meeting minimum Strength requirements (for weapons & armors), and hitting hard. It's not a universal attribute but it comes up regularly enough that everyone values it.
    Agility is probably the most reduced attribute in the new rules. Half of what it did (interrupts, tumbling, balance, etc.) has been rolled into Athletics, though it still has Evasion, Reloading on the move, and resisting Tests. It still governs a lot of skills and edges. It's super popular, and still shows up a fair bit in play. I'm good with this, since
    I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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    • #3
      I always considered Common Knowledge (pre-SWADE) to be a loose "background" mechanic that was subjective to individual characters. I regularly subsituted other attributes whenever applicable; a hero with a dancer's background would roll Agility to dance and Smarts to know the history / theory behind the different styles. Naturally, any character can technically attempt to dance, but without a tie to their concept, I'd probably have them roll at a penalty.

      This is essentially no different from your house-rule, but without the unnecessary reduction to five separate quasi-skills.

      Adventure Edition has streamlined A LOT of the wonky rules from previous editions. Common Knowledge is one of those rules, and as ValhallaGH mentioned, it's a good change. The addition of Performance and Athletics as skills means that a lot of things that were abstracted to Agility are now covered by those skills. Likewise, the consolidation and broadening of "knowledge" skills removes much of the abstraction of Smarts for very little investment.

      I would like to revamp my house rule to fit, as a feel attributes do not get the level of attention and game play as they should.
      SWADE changes a lot of the old paradigms, and attributes have less of a focus by design. The new focus is on skills, and that's why most of the oddball rules are now relegated to skills. So I need to ask, what about attributes seems to be lacking? What issue is your revamped houserule meant to address?

      First add other skills to the core skills requiring advancement, or second removing Athletics, Common Knowledge from Core skills and instituting my rule-set.

      If I choose the first option, I feel the need to increase the creation points from 12 to 15 as I increased the skills needing advancement.

      The second option, I feel the need to reduce the creation point as they are getting 5 skills for free.
      Option 1
      Okay, first I need to ask what role these new skills are going to cover. What does Endurance do that Vigor can't? What does Acrobatics do that either Athletics or Performance don't? What is the active function of Will that Persuasion, Intimidation, or Taunt doesn't already cover?

      Option 2
      This reverses the paradigm that SWADE sets, and I don't think that's a good thing. This option encourages players to put more investment into attributes in return for stifling creative concepts. With this option, Common Knowledge is Smarts, meaning the book smart nerd is also a master of geography and culture, and the dimwit is also socially oblivious. Athletics is Strength (in your rule), meaning the wiry scrapper sucks at wiggling out of holds.
      That's not a good change in my opinion.

      And I can't really comment on the other three quasi-skills since I'm not sure what roles they fill. So I think that's probably the first thing to establish before any other decision can be made.

      Comment


      • #4
        I appreciate the feedback. I think I need to clarify:
        In life, I have found those persons who are naturally good at something without having being taught the skill. I associate these persons as someone with a high associated attribute.

        I will use the Dancing example. There are people who are naturally graceful (attribute based) and, while probably not as skills as a classically trained dancer, can dance beautifully. I think the attribute is lost on the Unskilled attempts rule from page 89.

        But I also fear the reverse, Attributes replacing skills. Example: My dancing is a d4 but my Agility is a d8. Can I just make a Agility check to dance?



        From what I am assuming, based on what you all have said, you do actively make attribute checks as opposed to skill checks, situationally.

        I do not think this is a documented rule in SWADE. Please correct me if I am wrong, as I may have missed it. (I found it under Trait Rolls; Page 87)

        So I was trying to find a middle ground and may have over engineered a solution.

        Maybe I should consider the following:
        Unskilled Attempts
        If a character doesn’t have a skill for an action he’s attempting, he rolls the associated attribute for his skill die (and a Wild Die if a Wild Card) and subtracts 2 from the total.
        The GM may decide certain tasks cannot be attempted unskilled, such as performing complex surgery or flying a commercial jet.
        Last edited by Thunderbeast; 06-26-2019, 08:15 PM.

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        • #5
          Yeah, that's a reasonable way to discern talent.
          But talent is potential. It's a measure of how quickly and easily a person can learn a particular skill.
          Having good eyesight and steady hands indicates a talent for shooting and marksmanship, but without some actual training and practice that talent alone will not make someone into a good shot.
          Possessing great balance, a strong sense of rhythm, and precise control of your muscles indicates an incredible talent for dance (and some forms of close combat). But without instruction, practice, and training, all that talent is meaningless.
          Strong lungs, a sense of pitch, and smooth vocal control indicate talent for singing. But if that person never sings then that talent doesn't matter. Without practice that talent is wasted. Without training, that person will never be half as good as training would have made them.

          The Savage Worlds rules reflect this distinction by making most activities into Skills, and linking the ease of progression in those Skills to certain Attributes.

          From what I am assuming, based on what you all have said, you do actively make attribute checks as opposed to skill checks, situationally.
          Well, yeah.
          When resisting a Test? You always roll the related Attribute.
          Recovering from Shaken, or resisting Fear? You roll Spirit.
          Determining how affected your character was by a poison or disease? Roll Vigor.
          Moving a heavy object with brute force? Make a Strength roll.
          Withstand various powers? The powers list specific Attributes used to resist them (generally Agility, Smarts, or Spirit).

          If you mean, "you can make Attribute checks in place of Skill checks," then no. Not usually.
          If something is purely a question of innate ability (resist diseases, move a heavy object, evade incoming danger, retain composure in the face of nightmarish evil, remember a clue that came up earlier this adventure, etc.) then you roll Attributes.
          If something is the province of a skill then you roll that skill. Sometimes a GM will be generous and let a player roll an Attribute, or the player will come up with an alternative method that justifies a pure Attribute roll, but these situations are rare.

          Maybe I should consider the following:
          Unskilled Attempts
          If a character doesn’t have a skill for an action he’s attempting, he rolls the associated attribute for his skill die (and a Wild Die if a Wild Card) and subtracts 2 from the total.
          The GM may decide certain tasks cannot be attempted unskilled, such as performing complex surgery or flying a commercial jet.
          This rule punishes average (d6) Attributes. Because of the peculiarities of dice rolls, a d4-2 is more likely to get a TN 4 basic success than a d6-2 is (18.75% versus 16.67%). The d6 is more likely to get a Raise, but a basic success is less likely for a character with an average Attribute, under this rule.
          I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thank you for taking the time to answer.

            Originally posted by Thunderbeast View Post
            I will use the Dancing example. There are people who are naturally graceful (attribute based) and, while probably not as skills as a classically trained dancer, can dance beautifully. I think the attribute is lost on the Unskilled attempts rule from page 89.
            ValhallaGH covered this beautifully so I'll keep my response brief and to-the-point to avoid unnecessary repetition.
            Attributes represent raw potential talent while skills represent applied talent. This is characterized through how higher attribute scores reduce the cost to improve linked skills.

            From what I am assuming, based on what you all have said, you do actively make attribute checks as opposed to skill checks, situationally.
            "Actively" is a touchy word here. SWADE generally doesn't allow attributes to be used "actively" (or should we say "pro-actively"). It typically uses them in a reactive capacity.

            If you are instead referring to when I said:
            "...a hero with a dancer's background would roll Agility to dance and Smarts to know the history / theory behind the different styles."


            that was used in the context of pre-SWADE mechanics. As mentioned later in that post, Adventure Edition changed the paradigm concerning the nebulous relation between attributes and skills.

            That's not to say there aren't situations where the rule calls for an attribute to be used pro-actively. There are. Strength, for example, has a few active mechanics supporting it: power-lifting, jumping, and smashing things. However, in the wider view of things, this is justified. Strength doesn't have any linked skills, and thus doesn't have much going for it, so in order to keep it balanced against the other attributes, it makes sense to allocate some proactive mechanics. This keeps the giant, 330-lb muscleman brute from becoming an obsolete choice. He doesn't need to pick locks, he just smashes through the door. He doesn't jury-rig a bridge, he just leaps across the chasm. It's less elegant than the other methods, and may not be the preferred choice, but it keeps that character build from slipping by the wayside.

            ... okay, wow! That was a weird tangent.

            Maybe I should consider the following:
            Unskilled Attempts
            If a character doesn’t have a skill for an action he’s attempting, he rolls the associated attribute for his skill die (and a Wild Die if a Wild Card) and subtracts 2 from the total.
            The GM may decide certain tasks cannot be attempted unskilled, such as performing complex surgery or flying a commercial jet.
            Don't forget the use of Comprehensive Modifiers (SWADE, p34). If your "dancer" character, for whatever reason, has no points in Performance, but enjoys mimicking a certain TV show by sauntering around their living room, then a GM might be convinced to reduce the untrained penalty by 1 or 2 points.

            Familiarization might also be a factor. There are several different types of dances, from the traditional to the unconventional. A ballet dancer would likely be out of her element in punk rock circle pit, and the freshest break-dancer in the hood would "Say Whaa!" to a paso doble.
            Last edited by Deskepticon; 06-27-2019, 04:38 AM.

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